NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A senior prom is a right of passage, but the expense can at times be overwhelming.
This week, a pop-up boutique in Manhattan will outfit hundreds of girls from head to toe for free.
The multi-purpose room at Advent Lutheran Church has been transformed into prom central compliments of Gala Gear — a non-profit organization that provides dresses and accessories to girls in New York City that may not otherwise be able to afford to go to prom.
“Seven years ago I wanted to help out a high school in my community so I sent out an email thinking I would get 20 dresses and the very first year I got 198,” said Gala Gear founder Frankie Thompkins. “So I realized I was on to something.”
This year, Gala Gear and volunteers from New York Cares will dress nearly 300 girls from 15 New York City high schools.
“Times are hard so you definitely want to save as much money as you can so this is a really good opportunity to find something that you like and that won’t cost you anything,” said Choir Academy of Harlem student Talisa Velasquez.
“Prom is not cheap; you have to buy shoes, hair makeup everything so to have help, that’s a good thing,” Choir Academy of Harlem student Nia Walker said.
Each graduating senior can choose a full outfit, complete with shoes and other accessories and if they don’t find a formal gown that they love they can choose a more casual dress for graduation.
With nearly 2,000 new and gently worn dresses to choose from, most girls scored prom gowns.
“I feel like a princess,” Velasquez said.
“I feel good, like I feel pretty,” Walker said.
The girls will also be able to meet with professional stylists, make-up artists and the operator of a high heel boot camp so there are no stumbles or fashion faux pas on prom night.